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Posted on Apr 16, 2013 in Backup, Planning A Backup | 0 comments

Case Study – A complete off site backup solution for a home or small office – Part 2

Initializing and formatting the drives

A hard drive in my computer in Vista

Before we can use the drives in our off site backup system, the hard drives need to be formatted. Fortunately, if you already have an operating system installed, this is easy. You simply need to access the disk management console. We’ve prepared two tutorials on how to do this, one for Windows Vista and one for Windows XP:-

Initializing and formatting a new hard drive in Windows XP
Initializing and formatting a new hard drive in Windows Vista

Follow the same tutorial to format both drives. Advanced users might want to create two partitions on the drives, allocating an equal amount of space for each user, but this isn’t strictly necessary. When you are done, your drives are ready to receive your backups. Label each drive so that they can be clearly identified. For the rest of this example, we will refer to the drives as drive A and drive B.

The next step is to let Windows know that this is a removable drive and not one that will be staying in the computer all the time. We’ve prepared another tutorial to show you how to do this in both Windows XP and Windows Vista:-

Making a drive removable in Windows XP or Windows Vista

Follow the above tutorials for each removable drive you use and on each computer that you intend to use the drives with.

Alice and Bobs backup folders

Now, all that remains is to create some directories. On drive A, create two folders, naming them “AliceBackup” and “BobBackup” (of course, feel free to substitute your own names here). Now, remove drive A and insert drive B, and make identical copies of the folders. (You can skip this step if you partitioned the drive into two halves).

Start backing up

At this point, Alice should take drive A and Bob should take drive B. Both Alice and Bob should backup their files and folders into their respective directories. If either party does not wish their backups to be accessible to the other, they can use Genie Backups AES encryption facility. Once the backup is complete, Alice and Bob exchange drives and do the procedure again. Now both individuals have an up-to-date backup at home and one stored at their friends house, protecting their data against loss due to fire, theft or other natural disaster (assuming the natural disaster doesn’t wipe out both houses in one go!). For the off site backup concept to work, Bob and Alice should exchange drives often, at least once a week, more often if it is possible.

Caution! Caution!

Pitfall – Changing drive letters

Using the scheduler in GenieSoft Backup Manager is a very convenient way to automatically backup data. Bob and Alice could set the scheduler to backup their data while they slept and meet to exchange the drives the next day. However, Windows has a bad habit of changing drive letters when you insert or remove a drive. Because of this, you should verify that the drive has the same letter assignment as last time when you reinsert it, by checking in My Computer (or Computer in Windows Vista). If you do not and Windows changes the drive letter assignment, your scheduled backup will probably not run. We’ve prepared two tutorials that show you how you can change drive letter assignments:-

Change drive letter assignments in Windows XP
Change drive letter assignments in Windows Vista

Drawbacks of this approach

In order for this backup solution to work correctly, both Alice and Bob must take reasonable care to store their backup disks securely. Keeping the backup disk in the caddy in a secure computer room should be enough for most peoples needs.

In order for this scheme to be of use, both parties must meet and exchange drives regularly. If this is inconvenient, it might be better to use an online backup service which can be run overnight and will transmit your data to a secure server off-site. Of course, online backup services are expensive and incur monthly fees, especially where large amounts of data are transferred. Furthermore, almost all domestic broadband providers now throttle or disconnect users who they consider to be transferring more than a reasonable amount of data.

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